From the first training-related article being published in 1918 and development of learning theories and theory-based research in the 1960s and 70s to the present, learning & development has a rich history that’s taken some time to pick up steam. (1)

So why is it important to start with an L&D strategy nów?

We’ve put together 5 of the most important reasons (honestly, the list could have been much much longer).

Learning and development:

1

Reinforces a healthy company culture

The culture of your organization is at the heart of everything. It is not a coincidence you lead most presentations with your business values. These values are what you stand for as an organization and what you’d like your employees to embody.

94% of executives believe that company culture is the way to organizational success.(2) That means that having a healthy culture is essential to reaching your goals and successes! 

To work towards a healthy culture, you need to invest in your employees and offer them the tools so they can develop themselves both personally ánd professionally. Because when employees do feel supported, they will be happier. And as an organization you will see that happiness goes a long way; higher levels of productivity, engagement etc! 

Luckily, as an HR professional investing in your employees is not a new thing for you. 

The value of giving employees the space to develop personally and professionally is certainly not to be underestimated. It is a must, or even hygiene factor, as 46% of young professionals assume that organizations invest in their employees. If you are not doing this, it can discourage a lot of potential talent from applying, and certainly from staying longer and contributing to organizational success. (3) It is worth considering that this will translate to the reputation of your organization as well. 

Naturally, you don’t want your organizational reputation to turn into a bad one, because of a lack of investment in your employees. As an organization you naturally want to be known as a great employer. You want your organization to be described by employees as “good to its employees”. You especially want to create an organization that attracts new talent because of its good reputation, and is interesting enough for current talent to stay.

By creating an attentive development process for employees, you will see an upward trend in happy workers, a pleasant working atmosphere and greater performances. You will quickly become ahead of organizations that do not invest in development; no less than 33% of HR teams. These organizations disregard the training and retraining of existing. 

What we see is that when companies ignore training & development and don’t focus on retention of their current employees they will not only see this translated into their company culture, but they will also incur higher costs and lower productivity rates .

2

Attracts top talent

As an HR-team you put a lot of time and effort into recruiting the very best people. So, naturally you want them to stay and become a real asset to the organization. Not to mention that when employees do leave within a short period of time your recruitment costs can run from 90% to 200% of the annual salary! (4) The costs of recruiting and replacing an employee are definitely not to be underestimated.

When an employee stays longer, they will prove more involved and subsequently will prove valuable because they help reach organizational successes. 

One of the consequences of investing in L&D is that talent will be attracted to your organization. 46% of employees count on their employer to invest in development, and as far as 87% says that personal development and career growth opportunities are very important to them. (5, 6)

 So when you are known as an organization that invests in its employees and therefore in the future, people will come to you on their own. The ideal solution! Recruiters no longer have to spend hours on LinkedIn searching for talent. Because they now flock towards you.

3

Increases productivity

If you support professionals in the development of skills, you will of course see this reflected in your organizational growth. Employees will always work more productively when given the right skills to do so. By starting early in the onboarding process with both a good skills match and the right support, productivity will increase and your organization will see a return on investment quickly. You will reach a place where your organization achieves ROI on an employee. If it takes longer to train new talent, or if training employees is not given priority, the ROI curve will flatten.

Economic value to the organization

Source: Bersin by Deloitte. (Oct 2014)

4

Helps facilitate innovation and creativity

Looking at Cisco Systems, the number one organization in the ‘best workplaces’, we see that Cisco has reached that number one holding onto three core values: connect everything, innovate everywhere and benefit everyone. 

Looking closer at the second component, innovation Cisco guarantees employees an:

 “Open and agile environment that encourages employees to explore ideas and challenge norms. In turn, [Cisco] asks its employees to relentlessly pursue innovation.” (7)

Incorporating innovation into the organization’s core values has been a trend of the last couple of years. Many organizations strive to be innovative and thus adaptive because it is essential to business.  

That’s why it’s also essential to create an open environment for employees and invite them to be creative. A work culture such as Cisco’s supports employees coming up with ideas, experimenting, cultivating a feedback culture ánd to relentlessly pursue innovation to the advantage of the organization itself. 

L&D creates such an open environment. If you show your employees you’re willing to invest in their growth, you offer them the space to grow. By encouraging collaboration, learning (making mistakes as well as part of the learning curve), mentoring, experimenting and feedback you create the ideal place for great ideas. (8)

5

Stress

Research into the importance of personal development is clear: 1 in 6 Dutch employees think that in 20 years’ time they will no longer have the relevant skills they need to perform their work properly.(9)

Many employees have witnessed the  major effect that automation of processes has had on their work. 42% think they will no longer be relevant to the labor market in 20 years. Even more remarkable is that more than half, 54%, of the employees are not supported by their employer in the development of their current or in developing new skills.

 

HR professionals themselves regard the aging of employees skills with an even higher urgency. 1 in 3 organizations expect that employees will no longer have the right skills in just 10 years to do their work properly. Large organizations in particular consider it more likely that employees will not be able to keep up with their current skill set. At companies with more than 1000 employees, a skills shortage is expected in 40% of the employees. In smaller organizations, with fewer than 25 employees, this is less than 25%.

Yet the same survey showed that 36% of organizations currently do not have a strategy for training their current  employees. Many fall back on recruiting new employees, rather than developing current ones.

32% of organizations prefer to recruit new employees instead of training current employees. This is anything but a sustainable strategy. This approach does not close the skills gap and does not benefit the retention of employees! If employees do not have the right skills to do their job, they will often leave. Organizational growth will steadily decline and in ten or twenty years’ time it will become clear: the organization was not future-proof!

By not actively investing in employee development, organizations are playing with their own future-proofness. Therefore, it is vital to train employees with the right skills. Skills they need now, in ten and twenty years time, so that your organization can continue to grow.

Takeways

L&D will prove a very valuable business strategy, because when you invest in your employees you will be able to: 

1. Reinforce a healthy organizational culture: when they can develop personally and professionally within your organization they will prove more productive and engaged. 

2. Attract top talent: employees with the right skills will come to you because you invest in your employees and prove to be an attractive employer. This saves you recruitment costs and time! 

3. Increase productivity: du wirst aufgrund deiner L&D Strategie Unternehmenswachstum erkennen, denn die Mitarbeitenden werden produktiver und besser an ihre Rollen angepasst sein, wegen den richtigen Kompetenzen. 

4. Encourage innovation: with lots of room for growth and ideas you encourage innovation. And in turn push towards organizational successes by having employees work to their full potential.

5. Stay future-proof as an organization: you’re investing in skills that your employees need now and can use in the future. You’re guaranteed to keep achieving goals and your organization will continue to grow.

Since human capital, or talent, is your most important asset, L & D has become a top priority. 

“L&D has earned a seat at the corporate strategic planning table, and is consulted as early as other functional areas when new initiatives are planned.”(10)

Via learning and development your employees will be able to live up to their full potential, working with the right skill set, and your organization will be able to achieve results; now and in the long term. With a focus on shaping a healthy culture and talent and promoting creativity and new behaviour while at the same time driving business, L&D really is the way to go.

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